May 312015
 

J and I had problems with apologies. I wrote an entire paper on on “submissive sorry” (it’s been submitted to the Journal of Submissive Studies; I’m still waiting for the double-blindfold peer review reports). That was observation, but this is advice for everyone. Okay, maybe not everyone — maybe just anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they need to apologize to me. 

Apologize and AcknowledgeImage of broken window with bandaid

Apologize for your fuck up, but also, acknowledge whatever inconvenience, annoyance, hurt, or anger your fuck up caused. Apologize for that too.

Be Empathetic (It’s Not About You)

Sure, you feel bad (for fucking up), but your partner feels bad too (because you fucked up). Since you’re the one who did the fucking (up), now is not the time to be a self-centered narcissist.

It never makes me feel better to know that my partner feels really, really bad about whatever it is. That actually makes me feel worse (for a number of reasons). What makes me feel better is acknowledgement of what I’m feeling.

FYI, if you fuck up and your partner is comforting you (instead of the other way around), then you suck at apologies.

Fix It

If you fuck up, fix it. If it’s possible to correct the mistake, then do that. If it isn’t, then focus on making your partner feel better. If you’ve hurt feelings, mend them, or otherwise do due diligence to provide whatever happiness or distraction to pull your partner out of the emo weeds.

Don’t Do It Again

If you’re sorry — actually sorry — don’t do it again. There’s a difference between saying you’re sorry to smooth things over and  being genuinely sorry that you fucked up. Being genuinely sorry means you’ll do your best to avoid fucking up again.

Cicero quote: "Any man can make mistakes but only an idiot persists in his error."Make a Plan

If you’ve fucked up again in the same way you’ve fucked up before, maybe you need to be proactive about avoiding future fuck ups. Make a plan with concrete steps, points for decisions, questions to ask, and/or partner check ins. At least try — make an effort — particularly in situations that feel familiar, in situations where your partner doesn’t quite believe your apologies because your frequent fuck up. Be honest enough with yourself to know where you’re likely to fuck up, and take steps to fix it. Actual steps. Seriously.

Share your plan with your partner. Even if it doesn’t work out, knowing that you’re actively trying to work on things goes a hell of a long way to mend hurt feelings and extend a line of goodwill credit for future fuck ups.

line-break-flourish-sm

Though it’s not quite a fuck up/angry parter/”I’m sorry” situation, this post by Tom Allen is fucking brilliant on course corrections, especially when it comes to D/s style relationships and mismatched expectations.

What Tom did was pretty fucking cool — he has honest with himself about his own actions and expectations, and realistic about his partner’s. Something wasn’t working, so he tried something else. He didn’t just hope. He acted. He took deliberate steps, and  good on him for it (and bonus, there’s lots of promise for a positive outcome for both he and his wife).

Anyway, go read it. Seriously.


“Visual Representation of the word ‘Sorry'” via Reddit, posted by theseventhredditor, posted on May 30, 2015.
Bastardization of a quote by Marcus Tullius Cicero, design by Dumb Domme (lover of Cicero; who aspires to be a good (wo)man speaking well).

More on Apologies…

I lied

It hurts to feel this and it’s compounded by the fact that I made you a promise and I broke it. I lied. I fucked up. I’m sorry…… [read more]

reconsider

I was wrong. I called it in sadness and anger, in immaturity, and in an overabundance of emotion. I’m sorry…… [read more]

submissive “sorry”

After a year-long observation of a submissive male, I present my findings on the various stages of submissive “sorry”..… [read more]

 

May 262015
 

tweet-BDSM-subversive-2I’m tired of the “everything is awesome” school of uncritical sex positivity.

More than uncritical, sex positivity seems to actively discourage examination by dismissing any analysis that isn’t positive or neutral (beyond Your Kink Is Not My Kink) as kink-shaming or any number of other reductive dismissals that preclude critical examination or discussion.

Potential counterpoints are addressed by building straw men easily dismissed as vanilla or prudish, or as ignorant, uninformed, or inexperienced. Actual counterpoints are automatically deemed kink shaming or censorship.

If criticism is already assumed as coming from some position on a sliding scale of ignorance/inexperience to dislike/disgust, then no criticism is valid.

If “sex positive” precludes criticism, I am not sex positive.

line-break-flourish-sm

Melissa A. Fabello’s piece, “3 Reasons Why Sex-Positivity without Critical Analysis Is Harmful,” speaks more eloquently than I can.

She draws on Allena Gabosh’s 2008 Southplains Leatherfest keynote address, Gabosh defines sex positive as “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation.” Fabello boils sex positivity down to “not making moral judgments, respecting everyone’s personal preferences, and encouraging people to be active agents in discovering what does (and doesn’t) make them tick.”

I’m on board with all of that, but, like Fabello, when sex positivity assumes that all choices are “automatically liberating” and “everything is revolutionarily enlightened” without considering the social structures from which those choices emerge or the implications of choices on existing/future structures, then I need to take a step back.

Fabello advocates sex positivity coupled with critical analysis in three areas:

  1. The role of socialization and social structures in our preferences and choices (including those available).
  2. The uneasy relationship between individual empowerment and collective oppression, along with recognition that what is liberating to one may contribute to the oppression of many.
  3. The new status quo of sexual liberation, one that looks a lot like repackaged sexism.

The most important thing Fabello says is this: “These issues aren’t black-and-white. They’re not easy. They’re not one-size-fits-all. They deserve a conversation.”

If sex positivity is black and white, and if a sex positive approach precludes these conversations, then I am not sex positive. Perhaps sex critical is the more appropriate label for my thinking?

(more on this later in another exciting installment of me figuring out what the fuck I think about things)

 

fuck-this-everything-is-not-awesomePost published courtesy of my grumpy inner feminist, who wants to remind you:

Everything is not awesome!
and also…maybe nothing should be off limits to criticism, and maybe criticism =/= kink-shaming… and maybe we’re individuals, but also, products and producers of culture… and maybe agency and autonomy are a bit more complicated than we think they are…

 

May 232015
 

A relaxing soak in the tub — that’s a thing normal people do with free time.

Without the stress of potential career collapse, for the first time in over a decade, I have free time. I’m glad, but if the past few weeks are any indication, I have absolutely no idea what to do with it (or myself).

I also have a bath tub. It’s beautiful — big enough for two, deep enough to drown in, with bubble jets, water jets, and a thermostat — but it’s completely wasted on me. I haven’t used it in well over a year, so it needed a thorough scrubbing to remove a year’s worth of dust, cobwebs, and whatever creepy crawlies that might have taken up residence in the plumbing. I cleaned every accessible surface, poured a healthy dose of liquid bleach into the intakes and returns, and scrubbed until it sparkled.

While it filled with scalding hot water, I rummaged around and found a floral smelling bath ball thing to toss in, (long ago, I learned that bubble bath + water jets = a very bad idea), and I eased into the water. During an episode of Louie (I am incapable of just sitting there), I struggled to find a balance between the hum and gurgle of the jets, the iPad volume, and the echo in the room. During the second episode, I engaged in brisk exfoliation with an extra gentle human sander loofah thingy. That felt productive, but I got out before the episode was over — I had nothing else to do and I dislike being still unless I’m doing something.

It’s been an hour since then and my skin still looks freshly scrubbed and pink in places. By “freshly scrubbed,” I mean excessively scrubbed. By “pink,” I mean irritated.

I’m thinking I should have run water through the system to flush out the bleach before I filled the tub. I didn’t think of that. Instead, I sat in a scalding hot, self-agitating mild bleach solution for almost an hour while I scrubbed my skin raw.

I do feel like a new woman… mostly because I burned off the outermost layer of the old one.

So fucking relaxing.
 
 
 

May 212015
 
we move in oblong orbits
our distance inconsistent
over time
increasing space
reduces gravity

“Animation of the moon phases / Lunar libration with Phase 2” by Tomruen, (2005). Image released into the public domain.
May 192015
 

kinkbnb-logo-leather-pride-flag-2KinkBNB’s logo is terrible.

First, and perhaps most egregious, is their use of Impact font — popularized by LOLcats, the typeface has been the standard for image macros and internet memes for the past decade. Impact font…. seriously? Like, were there no other simple sans-serif typefaces they could have chosen?

While I can’t imagine the logic (if any) behind that choice, KinkBNB’s allusion to the Leather Pride Flag is as subtle as a sledgehammer (or perhaps, as subtle as a spanking).

It would be disingenuous to say I carry no purposeful, physical markings of cultural identity, but I prefer to think of them as aesthetic choices rather than ideological ones. They are about appearance — not about identity or affinity[1]. While you won’t find a triskellion, venus, or other membership/pride emblem on my person, my automobile bumper, or my online identity, I absolutely recognize their meaning and value (even if they aren’t all that important to me).

That’s why this KinkBNB’s allusion feels more like appropriation, and it doesn’t sit well with me[2]. (Excuse the reduction and non-linear chronology of what follows).

Obviously, KinkBNB’s logo is an allusion to the Leather Pride Flag, which is an ex post facto symbol with origins in gay leather culture post-WWII and its rejection of mainstream sex culture. More than that, leather subculture’s appropriation of biker culture’s aesthetic (leather) was a visible counterargument to stereotypes that painted gay men as effeminate and weak. Leather meant something, and wearing leather said something important.

feminist-marketing-campaigns

[Aside: While gay men’s leather culture developed in the late 1940s, the Leather Pride flag wasn’t introduced until the International Mr. Leather conference in 1989[3], a decade after the annual event was first held. While leather culture was still primarily associated with gay men when Tony DeBlase presented the flag in ’89, cultural membership had already expanded to include straights and women — those enjoyed the BDSM aesthetic, rejected normative sex practice/identity, or perhaps both.]

Anyway, branding a business with the symbols of a sub(/counter)culture organized around rejection of the mainstream rings insincere to me, particularly for a service that draws its name from “bed and breakfast” (which denotes entrepreneurial aspirations of those with means to have them and travel accommodations for those with funds to reserve them) and makes a profit by taking 10% of all transactions off the top.

I think it bugs me because of so many recent, high visibility marketing campaigns that have diluted, coopted, and misinterpreted feminism as a means to sell stuff. Women’s empowerment is trendy at the moment, and so it’s been employed in branding and marketing for pop stars, pornography, fashion, and toiletries[4]using feminism rather than being feminist.

It’s a strategic deployment (a manipulative appropriation of buzzwords, aesthetic, and iconography to sell products) rather than an ideological employment (a principled effort towards equal rights and opportunities for marginalized populations).

KinkBNB’s appropriation of leather pride symbols bothers me for the same reason Dove’s appropriation of feminist buzzwords does. Clearly, Dove is a million times more strategic (and worse) — their deployment directly opposes many feminist goals. KinkBNB’s appropriation of symbols just seems careless, and that’s a shame, because being more thoughtful about the movements that enabled its existence wouldn’t hurt its bottom line.

Is it a big deal? No, but it bothers me when people take things that don’t belong to them and use them carelessly. Are companies obligated to respect or participate in cultural movements? No, but it would be nice.


[1] Yeah, I know I’m kidding myself.
[2] Before anyone gets their leather knickers in a twist, I’m not calling for censorship or change, and I’m not even leveling that harsh of a criticism. I’m saying it doesn’t sit well with me and I shared my thinking because I’m a thoughtful motherfucker with an overthinky brain.
[3] According to Wikipedia (the source of all human knowledge): “Leather Pride Flag.”
[4] Beyonce at the VMAs; “feminist” porn (specifically the Feminist Porn Awards); Chanel’s faux feminist protest; and Dove (fuck Dove).